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This is a 9 chapter + epilogue story that is entirely @flyer33 fault for suggesting it. Starring characters that are in no way resembling real people. The Calling Chapter 1: The Shadow Over Hero Girl Productions can be cursed. Not just in the “Don’t Say the Word MacBeth” way anyone who’s watched a cartoon could tell you, either. Some films are such complete and total disasters behind the scenes that cast and crew ignore primadonna directors and temperamental stars and wonky effects to point directly at the supernatural. Most of these are, of course, false. When Heaven’s Gate spiralled out of control to the point its box office bombing sank the studio and the western genre, set members claimed the auteur director had made a deal with the devil that was coming due. Really, it had more to do with said director insisting the entire crew wait three hours to film a scene for clouds to move the right way and how he was scamming the studio by buying up the remote land he filmed on. When The Conqueror bombed at the box office and then every member of the cast and crew got cancer and died over the next twenty years, the superstitious claimed it was either the result of Producer Howard Hughes scamming a Native tribe for their land or an actual curse laid down by Genghis Khan. Of course, casting John Wayne as a Mongolian had every thing to do with the box office gross. And filming down wind of a nuclear test sight probably had more to do with the cancer than any curse. But very rarely, the superstitious naysayers are entirely right. Hero Girl was one of those rare occasions. It was and is and never will be, an action film based on a comic book character invented to keep merchandising rights in the 50s, retooled to try and exploit the feminism surge of the early 70s and retooled again into brainless cheese cake in the 80s and 90s. It has never been made and never will be made and it will always be being made, taking starlet after starlet down with it. Like radioactive desert soil, Hero Girl had lurked unseen and poisonous under the surface of Hollywood for over decades. In the 60s, Hero Girl was chosen to be the banner film for a blonde bomshell starlet, Lillian Lincoln. A famous beauty who’d romanced hall of fame ball players and presidents, Lincoln was on top of the world when the film was announced. How the super human action would have been shown via 60s effects was a mystery that was never answered. A broken condom for Lillian led to pregnancy related weight gain as she abandoned years of dieting, the actress famous curves went from an hour glass 36-20-36, to a soft and saggy 36-28-42, an unacceptable amount during Hollywood’s strict golden age. Having lost her looks and with them her patron’s attention, the bottom heavy Lillian slipped into immediate obscurity, believed to have died during a car crash on the way to a fat farm. Hero Girl went dormant, seemingly, for years. Over the next twenty years, a few starlet of the months from various Bond films or horror movies expressed interest. Not even the omni present cocaine of the 70s was enough for them to keep their figures but no one linked the sudden poundage to the forgotten film. After the success of the Superman and Batman films in the 80s, Hero Girl woke up and started fattening. The role was offered to the sole actress in Star Wars during ROTJ filming, the day before the metal bikini scenes. The steel bra had to be duct taped on and the rest of her costumes for the film had to be increasingly loosened to deal with the expanding actress, who never took another major role. When the part was offered to a house hold name supermodel Lindsay Lawford, she refused due to having a solid calendar of photo shoots already booked. Just being approached was enough, when she did a Pepsi shoot, it proved Lindsay had a genetic addiction to the sweetened corn syrup. Six months of six liters a day ruined her cover girl smile and made her centerfold body a cellulite coated, diabetic blob. Just before Batman and Robin seemingly doomed the superhero genre, Hero Girl struck again. The actress playing Batgirl, a gorgeous and athletic California blonde who’s acting talent was concentrated in her looks, was asked to read for Hero Girl ‘s latest test script a month before Batman’s shooting began. She arrived on set with a gut six inches too big around for her expensive costume, needing two refittings during production despite a personal trainer and a ban from craft services, to the tabloid’s delight. Between the Batman film being godawful and her good looks having turned into tabloid fodder, her promising career sank into obscurity and Hero Girl slipped away as studios abandoned superhero films. ...Or so it seemed. In the early 2000s, after X-Men had revived the genre, production on Hero Girl began again. To the misery of a handful of the character’s fans, the actress cast wasn’t a blue eyed blonde like the entirely fictional space alien protagonist, but an absolutely gorgeous African American actress Helena Fruit with a new Oscar and a smoking hot career to go with her stunning good looks. Unfortunately, a knee injury during training put Helena on the couch and she massively over indulged during six months recovery. By the end of the delay, Hero Girl would have needed another six months for its lead to lose the door jamming caboose she’d grown and she was replaced with a ginger Disney starlet, Tracey Truman, looking to move away from her goody too shoes image and embrace the smoking hot looks nature had given her. Unfortunately for Truman, the film’s curse made the weight from her partying pile up across her previously flat midriff. On the day for costume fitting, she stumbled in three hours late, still ** and fifty pounds over weight, most of it concentrated in a record winning beer belly that audibly sloshed. Her drunken tirade at the costumer didn’t ease the director’s nerves, nor did vomiting on him and passing out. Truman was replaced with the new flavor of the month, a brunette named Morgan Wolf who’d wowed in short shorts in a terrible sci fi action movie based on a toyline. Against all odds, Wolf made it through pre-production and even costume fitting...until a writer’s strike put filming on hold for six months. By the end of it, Wolf was so immensely pregnant with triplets that no amount of CGI could hide it and she was paid off a handsome severance sum, which helped as she was never going to fit into those shorts again without help. By this point it was 2010 and the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe had executives hungry. Hero Girl’s curse feasted well, even as the movie went nowhere and every actress approached saw their career’s nosedive and their weight’s sky rocket. Everyone established in the film world had heard to stay away from the film, but there were plenty of undiscovered starlets with big eyes and tiny waists for it to pork up. By late 2018 it had devastated a whole crop of Sports Illustrated rookie of the Years trying to get into acting and the studio execs seemed desperate to find someone, anyone to play the part to get the movie started. They supposedly offered $30 million dollars to Evelyn Stone, a famously skinny british actress who’d rose to fame in schlocky pirate movies and then proved her acting chops in period dramas, the role. Some would have thought Stone was picked because she was known for being near anorexically thin. Others because she signed the contract while giving birth and was thus unlikely to get hit with surprise pregnancy weight like so many predecessors. With the contract came a stint in an elite, private weight loss clinic to help Stone lose the minimal amount of baby weight she’d gained, surely in record time. In early 2019, the studio signed another Brit, Tessa Holmes for Hero Girl. …. Tessa rubbed the back of her head as the car pulled through LA’s horrible traffic. It was a nervous habit and a bad one, even though her hair hid the surgery scar she’d didn’t want to aggravate it or the titanium plate beneath it. She made herself stop scratching, examining manicured nails instead and taking another sip of her Starbucks’ espresso. Tessa hated Starbucks, especially drinks like this, but the doctor said she needed the extra calories to keep her weight up, even after the last round of chemo and the cancer free diagnosis. “All right back there?” her driver asked, a suited man clean and slick as a new whistle. “Completely fine, just a bit jet lagged,” she replied, “really it would be easier if they didn’t film everything in LA.” She tried to make herself read the script, which was...ridiculous schlock parading as something worthwhile. Hero Girl was little more than masturbation fodder being made into a popcorn flick pretending to have a point about empowerment by a morally bankrupt studio run by monsters who’d have made Nazi propaganda if there was a profit to it, but Tessa was being offered $35 million for her time and contracts for sequels and spin offs worth three times that. It wasn’t like she really needed the money, she could have done nothing her whole adult life and lived comfortably, but she’d been out of the game for over a year thanks to the diagnosis she’d kept thankfully hidden. Starlets tended to wane around thirty if you didn’t get a big franchise, a horrifically sexist tendency but one the 29 year old Tessa was facing despite knowing how sexist it was. That was a lot of money, enough to fund a lot of the charity’s and causes she actually cared about. “Ha, ain’t that the truth,” the driver said over her inner monologue, putting on a turn signal, “say, this is...an odd question but…” Tessa inhaled, wondering what it would be. She’d been asked for autographs since she was a teenager and for creepy autographs not long after that. Being daintily attractive, with a washboard waistline, delicately shapely legs and a provocatively taut butt had kept her rich and successful, but also drawn an insufferable amount of fetishistic energy. She could only pray the driver wasn’t going to ask her to sign feet pics… “My daughter is obsessed with those magic movies you were in and is a big fan of that UN speech you gave, you wouldn’t mind signing an autograph would you? I’ve got a note pad in the glove box if its not too much trouble,” the driver asked kindly. The actress felt herself smile, “Of course, always happy too.” They arrived just after she signed the note and took a selfie, feeling self conscious about her hair length. She’d had short hair for years, but the little pixie cut she’d managed to grow out was positively boyish. Her hair was coming back quickly at least and she didn’t need a wig going out anymore, but it still made her feel bad. Granted, not as bad as being told she had cancer had made her feel, so things were looking up. Stepping out into the studio backlot, Tessa was instantly anonymous. Clad in yoga pants and a hoody, too warm for LA, she could have been any slightly built woman between 15 and 30. It was the nice thing about being short for an actress and being known as a fashionista. If she didn’t wear an ethically sourced gown or pants suit, then she looked like anyone. Honestly Tessa preferred it that way. Stepping up to the costuming department, she was pointed at the right office without being recognized. Tessa to the door and knocked politely, noticing she was rubbing the back of her head again. Her head was having some phantom pains again, memories of the surgery that weren’t real, and it had made her sleep like shit the night before, with weird dreams in the little sleep she’d had. “Yes?” a woman asked as the door opened, smiling to recognize her, “ah, Tessa, so good to see you again.” “Ah, Beth?” Tessa asked, walking in with a smile to a large room packed with sewing machines, measuring tapes and costume wracks stretching back a hundred feet, “right, Beth? Its good to work with you again, you made the Moses set bearable.” Beth was a late middle aged woman, going grey and looking like a well kept librarian. Pencil thin and huge eyed, she reminded Tessa of a very friendly preying mantis. She’d met her on the set of what was probably the last profitable Biblical epic, where she played the wife of the Hebrew Prophet in a highly inaccurate belly baring harem girl outfit. Tessa, barely 20 then, had been a little nervous to be so exposed, and Beth had been instrumental in making her feel comfortable. “Ah yes, well its my business to make the star’s comfortable. Hopefully one day I’ll get to dress you in something that isn’t ridiculous,” Beth smiled as Tessa walked past to set her purse on a small sofa, “this costume is almost as bad as that dancing girl get up and for some reason the writers insisted that your civilian alter ego be dressed frumpy and dumpy. At least I talked them out of the fat suit your character has to wear before getting powers from a glowing rock, ugh. You could tell this was written by a man from a mile off. Can I get you a coffee before we get started?” Tessa laughed, “No thanks, I’m pretty wired as it is. I couldn’t sleep at all on the plane and need to pass out in the hotel as soon as we get this done.” She turned, noticing that Beth was eyeing her analytically with a slight frown. “...Problem?” the actress asked. “Um, no, no. Just...have you been feeling well?” the costumer asked her with motherly concern. The actress bit her lip, “Ah, I’d thought that might come up. To be honest...I’m a lot better than I was. For the last year and a half I was...well I was extremely sick.” Beth’s eyes seemed to bulge, “Oh my word, I had no idea…” “I wanted it that way, rather not have poparazzi taking pics as I leave the hospital,” Tessa sighed, “and well, I lost quite a lot of weight from the treatments. Weight that I didn’t really have to lose to start with.” The costumer’s face winced with sympathy, “but you look...positively healthy now…” “Well, thank you. My prognosis is excellent and I’ve been following a diet and exercise program to get into shape. It hasn’t been easy, I’ve been wearing nothing but sweat pants and hoodies for nearly a year and had to rebuild some muscle,” Tessa went on, not bringing up how doctor’s had had to pull a bullet sized tumor out of the back of her head. “Ah, well...I’m sure it worked well, um...,” Beth told her, pausing as Tessa pulled off her hoodie. Her shirt had rode up a bit with it, and the actress automatically pulled it back down. She didn’t notice that it immediately rode back up, well past her belly button. Beth blushed, tearing her eyes away from the younger woman to look her in the eye. “I’d made some preliminaries with the measurements from Moses, I didn’t think they’d changed…,” Beth paused, “...so much…” “Oh, well I think I’m about back to where I was,” Tessa said, “would you like to measure me first or try the preliminary costumes?” Beth seemed nervous, biting her lip, “Well...let’s do some measurements first...I have a feeling that ...well, let’s just measure you.” Tessa didn’t quite understand the strange hesitancy of the costumer. She had to presume that talk of her illness had upset her, even not going into full details Tessa wasn’t surprised. Looking at her now, she probably just looked a little thin, not like someone who’d come within a whisper of dying. She stood up straight as Beth measured her, the tape wrapping around stomach, hips, chest, thigh, calf and bicep. It was familiar to her, almost comforting, for Tessa had never had a weight problem. “Um, Tessa, you used to be a 20 inch waist, right?” Beth asked her softly. “Yes, I think so, I know I've always been skinny. Have I not gotten back to that yet?” Tessa returned, “Do we need to take the costumes in?” “Well, not quite...I’m well, going to need to call the producer about this, unfortunately…,” Beth said with a brittle smile, “I’m sure it isn’t your fault but well, they hate it when an actress isn’t the right weight…” The actress felt her cheeks color as the older woman went towards a desk phone, “Wait, they’re going to be angry I’m a little thin? I know they said that the character had “a dancer’s build” whatever that means, but there’s a month to filming for me to put on some muscle.” The costumer sighed, looking at her up and down again with a sad smile, quite similar to a doctor’s with bad news. “Tessa, that’s...really the opposite of the problem. Let me break this gently, how much did you used to weigh?” she asked the actress gently. “Well...I mean I didn’t weigh myself every day…,” Tessa began. She’d been born rather lucky. Not just white and smart in a first world country to middle class parents, but pretty as well. Tessa had preferred walks and yoga over more intense exercise, but she’d had a humming bird metabolism and as a vegetarian had never struggled with her weight. But she remembered the doctor’s appointment after the head aches had started… “I weighed about fifty kilograms, that’d be...one hundred and ten, one hundred and fifteen pounds?” she offered. “Oh, so...about thirty pounds then, maybe thirty five,” Beth winced in sympathy. “I’m...there’s no way I weigh less than ninety pounds!” Tessa exclaimed, eyes bulging. For a moment there was silence, Beth looking at her sadly. “Listen Tessa, you’re still a gorgeous young woman. And if this industry wasn’t so...shit, I’d never say this. But...you’re not the right body shape for this role at the moment…,” Beth told her, “because well...well there’s a mirror and a scale in that changing room…” Stunned, Tessa walked towards the changing room as Beth began a call. She hadn’t thought herself so scrawny, she didn’t think she’d gotten much under a hundred pounds. God, no wonder she was feeling so tired… Inside the dressing room was Hero Girl’s costume, a blue mini skirt with a golden belt and a blue top. It was a midriff bearing disaster and probably not the final product, which was supposed to be more like a one piece, but Tessa’s attention was more focused on the mirror and who was in it. “What...what...WHAT?” Tessa gasped. Her face was basically as expected: pale and somewhat freckled, with a short brown pixie cut. It wasn’t drawn as she’d expected from a year of being sick, instead her cheeks were full and rosy...very full as a matter of fact. To the point that her cheekbones were more of a suggestion. And that her firm jawline was looking...soft. Soft enough to have a slight double chin that merged with a gently broader neck, instead of the swanlike neck. Tessa gulped, making herself look downwards. Her pale blue t-shirt was tight, so tight that she began feeling how snug it was as she took it in. Never busty, she hadn’t worn a bra and plump, heavy looking breasts were poking at the thin fabric. Not believing her eyes, she cupped the slightly sagging bust with her hands, boob flesh over flowing her fingers. Her shirt sleeves were tightly pinching her bicep, she followed suit, pinching excess fat on her bicep and tricep. “What...how…,” the actress asked herself, certain that when she’d put the clothes on they’d fit normally. Always, Tessa had had a flat stomach, washboard flat. But now...now she had a real belly, a lot of her weight going to a considerable paunch. It was big enough to get a hand under, her too small shirt riding up over her belly button, which itself looked deeper. There were squeezable love handles over her hips, all merging together into this embarrassing muffin top. Sucking in her stomach brought some temporary relief, enough for her shirt to go down, but holding it in wasn’t a permanent option. “There’s no way...I was...I was under my normal weight, I’m sure of it…,” Tessa said to herself, both amazed and horrified. She was an educated woman. Yes, she’d been on fashion mags and photo shoots and knew how much her looks played into her success, but she was also a feminist. She knew she was worth more than her looks, that thirty pounds was nothing compared to something major, especially after going through something major. Maybe if she’d seen it creep up that would be true but...not all at once… Girlish hips had turned womanly over night, stretching her yoga pants until she had a camel toe and leaving a red ring under her muffin top. She turned, wincing to see how her butt, taut and round from yoga, had ...well, fallen. It was soft and jiggly on the other side of near transparent spandex, her panties and a new patch of cellulite on each cheek. She patted it and it bounced for an uncomfortably long time, the ripple spreading to thighs that now touched. Chunky looking calves emerged from the bottom of the capris, embarrassingly thick for someone who’d always had shapely legs. “Is this some sort of night mare?” she asked, blinking, pinching a softened cheek to try and wake herself up, “Fuck, am I being punked?” Knowing that even a CGI mirror couldn’t make her feel the fat beneath her fingers, Tessa gingerly stepped onto the scale. Her stomach, on its own accord, sucked in as the scale blinked, as if that would help. Feeling like a death row inmate awaiting a possible pardon, the actress felt her chin buckle as she looked down to see blinking numbers. For a moment, it was a laughable six hundred sixty six, surely some sort of automatic response as it calculated. Then the red numbers turned blue plummeting to a much smaller but still far too large one hundred and forty nine pounds. Thirty five pounds higher than she’d ever weighed… “I...how, I’d have felt it surely,” Tessa said, remembering that she’d only been wearing sweat pants and not going out save for doctors appointments for over a year, “but I’ve been sick…” Not for several months and her appetite had come back quite well, with her ordering take out several times a week. “And I’ve been exercising…,” she said, knowing that a couple miles on a tread mill and stretching wasn’t going to equal the extra calories her doctors had said she should eat, “...maybe not enough…” It was a cold slap of reality, far better than another one she’d had but still shocking. She’d grown up with her mother complaining about her weight, and now it was happening to her… “Tessa, are you alright?” Beth asked her from the other side of the door. “I...well...I’m a little chubby but otherwise alright,” the actress sighed, hand going to her stomach, “at least its not public...but shit the movie...how can this be a superhero movie if…” “I talked to the producer,” the costumer told her, “and they’re very understanding…” Tessa had a mind for figures, she remembered her contract and its weight clause, “...and my lawyer would be very unhappy if they bring this up in public.” “Which is why they’re offering access to an exclusive and very, very secretive clinic, paid for by the studio…,” the costumer replied softly.
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